Photos that Changed the world.

The Atomic Bomb


August 9, 1945

The picture was taken from one of the B-29 Superfortresses used in the attack on Nagasaki. The Fat Man mushroom cloud resulting from the nuclear explosion rises 18 km from the point of impact.

Over 50 million people died in the Second World war, but, the atomic bomb left humanity fearing the next world war could be utterly devastating.

From a single bomb, over 150,000 people died at Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki.


Hindeburg Burning 1937


Zeppelin LZ-129 Hindenburg shortly after catching fire on May 6, 1937 at Lakehurst Naval Air Station

The Hindenburg was not the first rigid airship to crash, but, the widespread media coverage and spectacular photos such as this, led to the end of hydrogen airships as a means of transport. The media coverage was heightened by live commentary by Herbert Morrison, describing the events, as broadcasted to WLS radio. Oh, the humanity!” The crash also became symbolic of twentieth century disasters which were now much more prominent in the public consciousness because of the power of mass media.

Source: wiki

The Great Depression


“Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California.” – Library of Congress

The statistics of the Great Depression were startling – unemployment of over 25%. Falling output of over 33%. But, photos such as this gave a human face to the economic statistics. This photo of Florence Owens Thompson became one of the most iconic photos of the period. It encapsulates the misery, humanity and helplessness of the period, but, at the same time encompasses a stoic and dignified attitude in the face of adversity. The photograph was taken by Dorothea Lange, who helped to develop the art of documentary photography.

source: Library of Congress

Dead on the Field of Gettysburg


Incidents of the war. A harvest of death, Gettysburg, July, 1863

In the 1870s, photographer was in its infancy. In fact the civil war was a boom time for photography as families often had photos taken, before their sons went off to war. It was photography that could also bring home to a wider audience the dreadful consequences of war, as this photo illustrates.

Source: LOC

Images from Ground Zero 9/11 2001


A New York City fireman calls for 10 more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the World Trade Center. The attack sent shock waves across the world and altered the course of US and global foreign policy.

Source: wiki

Fall of the Berlin Wall


Since its creation in 1961, the Berlin wall epitomised the “Iron Curtain” which separated East Europe from West Europe. The fall of the Berlin Wall symbolised the end of Communist / Soviet control in Eastern Europe. Germany could once again be re-united.

Images from First World War


First World War. July 1916. Wounded British troops on the Somme.

The First World War was billed as the war to end all wars. The outbreak of war led to a wave of patriotic feeling and enthusiastic support for going to war across Europe. It was only after shocking casuality figures that the initial euphoria died away. Photos like this presented a much different image of war than the careful propoganda of the protagonists.

Assasination of J F Kennedy 1963


John F. Kennedy motorcade, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 22, 1963, just a few minutes before the fatal assassination attempt. Photo by Victor Hugo, released into Public Domain


Taken by Mary Moorman (Mary Krahmer) 22 November 1963 one-sixth of a second after the fatal head shot to JFK. Four US Presidents have been assassinated whilst in office, but, none shocked the world as much as the assassination of JFK.

Source: wiki

The Horrors of the Nazi Concentration Camps

Assasination of J F Kennedy 1963


Senator Alben W. Barkley of Kentucky, a member of a congressional committee investigating Nazi atrocities, views the evidence at first hand at Buchenwald concentration camp. Weimar, Germany.

Bombing of Guernica – 1937

Bombing of Guernica - 1937

Only 34 years after the development of the first aeroplane, the world was shocked as the German Luftwaffe used planes to bomb the civilian town of Guernica during the Spanish civil war. The damage was extensive and foreshadowed the role of ‘carpet bombing’ of civilian areas which was to be a feature of the Second World War and future wars.

Source: German Federal Archives (link)

Beatles Arrive in the US

Beatles Arrive in the US

The Beatles symbolized the rapid social and cultural changes that occurred in the 1960s. Here they receive a rapturous reception on their first visit to the US.

The Beatles arrive in America. Library of Congress

Lenin and The Triumph of Communism


Lenin address a crowd during Russian civil war of 1920. The Bolsheviks would emerge as the controlling force in Russia leading to the totalitarianism of Stalinist Russia. This photo was cut in half by Stalinist censors to remove Leon Trotsky from the official history.

March On Washington 1963

March On Washington 1963

The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was one of the high points of the civil rights movements. Though boycotted by the Nation of Islam, the march was best remembered for Martin Luther King’s soul stirring speech – “I Have a Dream…”

Source: Wiki

Moon Landing 1969

Moon Landing 1969

20 July 1969 Buzz Aldrin. Photo by Neil Armstrong.

This picture captures the excitement of man’s first walk on the moon.

Source: NASA

First Flight of Aircraft

First Flight of Aircraft

For many years, powered flight was seen as an impossible dream. But, on December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wright Brothers succeded in developing the first heavier than air aircraft flight. Within the next few decades, aircraft travel was to grow exponentially profoundly changing the nature of long distance travel.

Gandhi on Salt March 1930

Gandhi on Salt March 1930

Gandhi at Dandi, South Gujarat, picking salt on the beach at the end of the Salt March, 5 April 1930.

The salt march was a pivotal moment in the campaign for Indian independence. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, the peaceful protest brought widespread publicity to the campaign for Indian independence both domestically and internationally. Though the British did not give any direct concessions as a result, over 80,000 Indians were jailed as a result and many were inspired to join the independence movement which culminated in Indian independence in 1947.

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